Best Sprinkler Heads to Avoid Watering the Lawn Manually

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Whether you live in a dry or humid climate, you’ll always have to do some lawn and garden watering on your own. Using the best sprinkler heads will help you save some water, get a more uniform coverage, and most importantly, automate at least one property maintenance task.

If you’re unsure on how to pick a sprinkler head, you’ve come to the right place. In this article you’ll find my favorite sprinkler heads, whether you need one or more, for home use or commercial use, and so on. Check them all out below.

10 Best Sprinkler Heads - My Favorites

This is a very affordable sprinkler head and it comes in various configurations. I recommend the simple three-way adjustable model. This one doesn’t have metal components so it helps you save money, and you don’t always need a timer either.

The Melnor 65078 AMZ XT comes with a set of 20 precision nozzles and has enough range to give you good coverage over a 4,500 sq. ft. area. While that all sounds good, let me explain the three-way adjustability. It basically means that the sprinkler can be adjusted for range, width, and flow.

Depending on how many PSI you can provide, you’ll get different results. You’ll need 60PSI for the full 4,500 sq. ft. coverage. But even with a lower PSI rating of some 20PSI, you can still cover about 3,000 sq. ft. with the Melnor 65078 sprinkler head.

I also like the QuickConnect adapter which allows you to switch between various tools and accessories in a matter of seconds. Other good selling points of this sprinkler head include durability, tight seal, and quiet operation that won’t wake you up at night or scare your pets.

  • Three-way adjustability
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    QuickConnect feature
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    Maintenance accessories included
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    Up to 4,500 sq. ft. coverage @ 60PSI
  • Slightly uneven dispersal pattern

The Rain Bird 25PJDAC is a fixed spray nozzle of impressive power and durability. It features brass construction that can hold up to any type of weather and long-term use. I also like it for its classic impact sprinkler sound. Not that plastic impact sprinklers are pleasant, but the brass impact noise is vintage.

If you’re looking to cover a large area with serious amounts of water, you should know that this unit also has a 1/2" thread connection which allows a massive output for a fixed spray head. Another thing worth mentioning is the exceptional adjustability of this model.

You can adjust the sprinkler head to offer part-circle coverage between 20 and 340 degrees, as well as full circle coverage. This means that you have more placement options than with many other sprinkler heads. What’s even more impressive is that this is a budget-friendly option, albeit not the prettiest one.

Among the materials used you’ll also find bronze and stainless steel for even more durability. The maximum range on this vintage-patterned sprinkler head is 5,200 sq. ft., given a high enough PSI rating on your water system.

  • Affordable
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    Vintage design and sound
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    Highly durable construction
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    Adjustable partial and full circle coverage
  • Not an out-of-sight sprinkler head

This small plastic sprinkler head can spray upwards of 50ft. Given its 4” pop-up clearance, the Orbit 55662 Voyager II is one of the most powerful models in its class. I also recommend it because of its wide range compatibility with most gear-driven rotor sprinklers.

Because of its coverage, I classify this as a small to medium-range sprinkler, suitable for most residential lawns and gardens. The Voyager II has a pre-installed nozzle that can shoot out up to three gallons per minute.

If you need extra watering power, you can change the nozzle quite easily. Some bonus nozzles are also included in the package, so that you can adjust the dispersal pattern and power accordingly. The necessary tweaks can be made with the provided adjustment key.

The minimum coverage you can get is 40 degrees. This makes the Voyager II a suitable option for watering small areas. But, you can also set it to rotate in a complete circle if you want to take care of your entire lawn.

  • Noiseless operation
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    Extra nozzles included
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    Can provide 360 degrees coverage
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    Low-profile
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    Easy to adjust
  • Needs pre-existing rotary underground sprinkler system

Without a doubt, this is one of my favorite oscillating sprinklers. It’s reasonably priced for a sprinkler head with a metal base. The Aqua Joe SJI-OMS16 sprinkler head features 16 nozzles, designed to resist clogging in bad weather conditions.

The connection is well sealed and it is unlikely to leak any water. This makes the SJI-OMS16 an economical solution. In terms of range, you can squeeze up to 3,600 sq. ft. coverage from this sprinkler head if your system has a high PSI rating.

You can also get some decent pattern adjustments that allow you to customize the sprinkler head for all types of lawns, gardens, and residential crops. This is great since a basic sprinkler head might just drown more sensitive lawns in too much water.

Another thing I like about this sprinkler is that a tool for cleaning clogs is also included in the package. Yes the nozzles feature an anti-clogging design, but you’ll eventually need to perform some maintenance. This way you can do it quickly and efficiently.

  • Adjustable dispersal pattern
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    Clean-out tool included
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    Covers up to 3,600 sq. ft.
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    No-leak connection
  • The rubber nozzles are not as long-lasting as plastic or metal nozzles

This is another oscillating sprinkler head with a turbo feature which helps it provide a very wide coverage. This model can cover up to 4,000 sq. ft. Even if you can’t provide more than 30PSI, you can still count on the Melnor 65003 AMZ MiniMax head to cover around 3,000 sq. ft., which I consider to be more than enough for most residential lawns.

The design of the sprinkler head is also very simple, making it super easy to use. When using a single hose attachment, you’ll have to put the cap on at the other end. You won’t need two connections to get a full 360 degrees coverage.

You can also control the flow, width, and range of the water stream. The flow-thru base design offers good stability when using the sprinkler at maximum capacity. Another nice feature is the noiseless operation. Not everyone’s a fan of this, but you can’t always go for a vintage sprinkler in residential areas.

The turbo-drive motor is highly durable and is responsible for the smooth and quiet operation. It also guarantees accurate coverage and reduces the chances of creating unwanted puddles. Last but not least, this sprinkler head should work with almost any garden hose, which makes it quite one of the most versatile options out there.

  • Very stable base
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    Four-way adjustability
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    Great coverage for residential properties
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    Powerful turbo drive
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    Even coverage
  • Few accessories included

If you can’t get enough of the tic, tic, tic, tok impact sprinkles, I recommend this as an affordable option with a low profile. The Rain Bird P5R can be your go-to vintage sprinkler if you want something that sits close to the ground and provides ample lawn coverage.

It features a plastic build with a brass-weighted arm. This gives the P5R a slower rotation and superior coverage. In terms of range, you can adjust the pattern to hit anywhere between 25 and 41ft. What’s even cooler about it is the diffuser screw design. This helps create small water drops that facilitate uniform coverage and mitigate the formation of puddles.

Another reason you might want to consider the P5R is the straight-through flow design which tends to operate better when the water is slightly dirty. As far as area coverage, you can mount the sprinkler head anywhere as you can get 20 to 340 degrees angle adjustments as well as use the full circle setting.

The latter may not be the best option if you’re shooting for maximum uniformity. But whether you’ll end up needing more than one P5R sprinkler head or not, the infinite pattern adjustment and the low cost of this plastic sprinkler make it a very appealing solution in dry times.

  • Brass-weighted guide arm
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    Smaller water droplets
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    Removable nozzle
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    Good leaking and side splashing prevention
  • Its low profile makes it easy to trip on

What’s a guaranteed way of ensuring maximum lawn coverage with your sprinkler heads? Often times it is buying them in sets. That’s why I think that the Hunter PGP 4-pack is a very good solution for those with medium-to-large properties.

A simple adjustment tool for the spray pattern is included in the package and will work on all four sprinkler heads. Each sprinkler head has a PGP number 7 nozzle. This allows various dispersal patterns adjustments from fine with wide spread to more concentrated streams.

The construction of the sprinkler heads is also impressive, as the internal gear drive shows good resistance to dirty water. This means that the Hunter PGP heads are low-maintenance. Unfortunately, no extra nozzles are included in the pack.

But really, the only real drawback with this option for most people will be the higher initial investment cost. This may not be a vintage design, but the Hunter PGP-adj is a vintage Hunter sprinkler head design that has enjoyed great popularity over the years.

  • Well-made nozzles
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    4-pack for complete coverage
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    Dirt-water resistant gear drive
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    Low pop-up profile
  • Not everyone needs four sprinkler heads

The Rain Bird AG-5 is a pop-up impact sprinkler. This is one of the designs I like the most because it’s out-of-sight, out-of-mind. You can’t really trip on it or need to worry about it messing with your property’s aesthetics.

The AG-5 has a rugged construction which makes it suitable for areas with hard water. It also features a double-weighted arm. This is helpful if you’re looking for a slower rotation and a better spread. It will also give you a bit of extra range.

Regarding spray distance, the AG-5 is pretty standard for a residential sprinkler head. It offers the range between 24 and 45ft, with an adjustable arc between 20 and 360 degrees. I also like that the head comes with five interchangeable nozzles which open up a whole world of possibilities in terms of spray patterns.

The nozzles are also color coded by their output to avoid any possible confusion. The red nozzle is the smallest one, rated at 2GPM @ 35PSI while the beige nozzle can deliver an 8.4GPM flow rate @60PSI. One thing worth noting is the adjustability. The possibilities are vast, but in order to make things easier on yourself you’ll have to get the Rain Bird 420644TLWR wrench which is sold separately.

  • Comes with 5 replacement nozzles
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    Wide output range
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    Low 3.5” pop-up height
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    Up to 45ft. spray distance
  • Adjustment wrench not included

The Gilmour 167H is a pulsating sprinkler head, according to the manufacturer. Although this sounds fancy, it just means that it’s an impact sprinkler head. This also means that it has that traditional sprinkler sound which some people find very appealing.

You may also find upon closer inspection that its build quality is particularly impressive. It’s a combination of brass and zinc, superior to plastic builds in longevity and superior to more affordable 100% zinc options in toughness. I like this as it offers a good balance of durability, reliability, and affordability.

This sprinkler head can offer coverage of up to 5,800 sq. ft. or a 43ft. radius. There’s little to no side splashing due to the well-designed impulse arm. The coverage is accurate thanks to the smaller water drops expelled by the diffuser screw.

All things considered, this is a versatile unit that will fit on all standard 1/2" connections. It can also be adjusted for partial coverage and full-circle coverage. This will give you more placement options if your lawn has many objects you don’t want getting wet.

  • Adjustable area coverage
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    Range up to 43ft.
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    Brass and zinc construction
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    Even water stream
  • May struggle slightly with hard water

If you need more than one sprinkler and are looking for an optimized pair, then the Rain Bird 5004 PC sprinkler head set might be the one for you. As part of the Rain Bird 5000 series, this is an adjustable 360-degrees capable rotor sprinkler head.

It features a pop-up design, standing 4” tall. It can provide you with a pretty impressive spraying distance of up to 50ft, although you can also adjust it for smaller lawns that will benefit more from a smaller dispersal radius. The lowest setting on this model is 25ft.

The Rain Bird 5004 PC is very easy to adjust. For example, each sprinkler head features a simple radius adjustment screw. You may also appreciate the rugged build quality. You’ll be able to use these sprinkler heads for residential and commercial applications.

The spring mechanism is reliable and can handle bad weather, poor placement choices, as well as hard water, which is really more than anyone could ask for at this price range.

  • Extra O-ring seals
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    Pressure activated wiper seal
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    Heavy-duty spring
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    Long spray distance
  • Slightly high pop-out height

Types of Sprinkler Heads

Sprinkler heads can be classified in various ways based on how they look, what they do, and how they work. But, there are two main categories to consider and those are fixed sprinkler heads – also known as spray heads - and rotary sprinkler heads.

Spray heads refer to sprinkler heads that are static. They stay in one place and have a fixed dispersal pattern that usually sends water streams in multiple directions for a wide coverage. Keep in mind that not all of these will have full 360 degrees coverage.

Rotary or rotor sprinkler heads look really cool and are very useful, too. These are the ones that typically have fixed spray patterns that get rotated at various speeds in order to provide a wider coverage. Note under this category you can find merry-go-round like sprinkler heads, as well as impact rotors or rain birds that move back and forth while shooting off bursts of water.

Gear driven sprinkler heads are preferred by many because they operate quieter and are considered low-maintenance. But hey, maybe you enjoy hearing that distinct impact sprinkler sound you can hear in almost every public park.

Which Sprinkler Heads Are More Economical?

I should touch on this a bit, so that you don’t go off buying a sprinkler head for the wrong reason. There’s no convincing empirical data that suggests rotary sprinkler heads are more economical than fixed spray heads.

When it comes to sprinkler heads, you have to compare two models of the same type in order to get a good comparison. You can compare rotary to rotary but it’s too difficult to compare fixed to rotary. And, when it comes to comparing two of the same type, you’ll have to account for recommended PSI, the range on the sprinkler and more.

For example, the land layout is also very important and can tell you more about water economy than comparing two rotators of different radiuses.

Materials and Cost

It’s tempting to think that metal sprinkles are somehow superior, but there are more things to consider. The manufacturing costs of all-metal sprinklers can go through the roof. It’s not always a viable option for manufacturers due to the high demand and it often doesn’t make financial sense for consumers to go for an all-metal model, either.

There’s also nothing wrong with plastic, as far as sprinkler heads go. Most of them are very durable, require less force to be rotated, can retract underground, and so on. And again, there’s little empirical evidence to suggest that brass or other types of metal nozzles are superior to plastic nozzles as far as sprinkler heads are concerned.

It is good to consider both plastic and metal models before you make the final decision. But remember that metal sprinkler heads can also get a lot more expensive than what I’ve listed.

Components Quality and Size

Obviously you want your sprinkler head to be as durable as possible and well-built. But some components are more important than others. If you’re shopping on a budget, then I recommend paying more attention to the wiper seal quality and the durability of the spring retraction mechanism than other components and features.

The wiper seal is very important because it prevents leaks. The spring retraction system is what prevents the sprinkler from getting locked after it comes out of the ground. Gravity-only pop-up pistons have a higher rate of failure, which is why I mostly prefer spring retraction systems.

In terms of size, there’s one thing you should be concerned with and that’s the above ground clearance of pop-out sprinklers. Tall ones are easy to trip on and won’t necessarily offer more spraying distance.

How Much Water Pressure do You Need?

All sprinkler heads, or at least most of those designed for use in the US, are generally designed to operate at optimum efficiency with a water pressure system of 30PSI. This doesn’t mean that they can’t work at a lower pressure.

You can also use sprinkler heads at 20PSI if you don’t mind getting less coverage. You can also use them at 50 or 60PSI if you want to get the maximum spraying distance. But, keep in mind that 30PSI is usually necessary to get optimum results and avoid feeling like you’ve been cheated by the manufacturer.

I should also point out that a low water pressure will often mess with the spray pattern. You might not get a uniform spread when operating the sprinkler head on short distances.

Forget About the Heavy Manual Sprinkler and Wasting Lawns

If you’ve reached this point in the article, you probably have a better understanding of what separates the best sprinkler heads from the rest. The secret is in the details and you can always find them within the specs sheets. Hopefully, you have learned to make more sense out of them by now.

Although each sprinkler on this list is a strong contender for the title of the best model out there, some are more situational than others. Now it’s up to you to figure out which one will suit your needs best. Hopefully this will put an end to your back problems and time wasted on watering your lawn by hand.

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